Physical Activity in Early- and Mid-Adulthood are Associated with Longitudinal Memory Trajectories in Later-Life.

TitlePhysical Activity in Early- and Mid-Adulthood are Associated with Longitudinal Memory Trajectories in Later-Life.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsA Kraal, Z, Dotterer, HL, Sharifian, N, Morris, EP, Sol, K, Zaheed, AB, Smith, J, Zahodne, LB
JournalJournal of Gerontology: Series A
ISSN Number1758-535X
Keywordscognitive aging, Exercise, Hypertension, Resilience

BACKGROUND: Physical activity (PA) in later-life may reduce dementia risk, but little is known regarding long-term cognitive effects of PA that occurred earlier in adulthood or mechanisms underlying associations. PA patterns at different ages may independently contribute to dementia risk, which would implicate multiple critical periods for intervention. The current study tested whether retrospective reports of PA in early- and mid-adulthood were independently associated with later-life longitudinal memory outcomes and whether associations were mediated by late-life cardiometabolic diseases.

METHODS: Participants comprised 5,200 Health and Retirement Study Life History Mail Survey respondents. Latent growth curves estimated independent associations between retrospectively reported PA in early-adulthood (age 18-29) and mid-adulthood (age 40-49) and 16-year episodic memory trajectories. Indirect pathways involving the maintenance of PA from early- to mid-adulthood and the influence of PA on later-life cardiometabolic diseases (hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease) were also estimated.

RESULTS: PA in early- and mid-adulthood independently predicted higher initial memory level and slower memory decline in later-life, respectively. Early-adulthood PA was indirectly associated with later-life memory level through higher mid-adulthood PA and lower rates of later-life hypertension, as well as with subsequent memory decline through higher mid-adulthood PA.

CONCLUSIONS: The current findings highlight the importance of PA throughout adulthood, such that initiating and/or maintaining exercise in early- or mid-adulthood may be protective for later-life cognitive health, and hypertension appears to represent a key mediator of these effects.

Citation Key11110
PubMed ID33000124